The other day as I was going to the office, I saw a billboard – with a huge red Pause icon.

The moment I say ‘Pause’ , most of us have a clear symbol in mind – But, how did this symbol come to be associated with the Pause in our MP3 players, iPods, DVD Players, VCRs and so on?

Electronic gadgets began carrying the Pause button sometime around the 1960s.

Here are the various theories about the origin of the indispensable “Pause” –

1. The symbol for a capacitor (which is basically the same) – A capacitor is a bit like a pause button, they both cause something to stop for a while.

2. The caesura symbol in music, often called “train tracks.” It looks like this: || but often slanted to the right. It’s also used to mark pauses in verse.

3. It comes from the Japanese character “γƒͺ” which indicates a pause. That is the character “ri”.

4. From the letter ‘U’, with the bottom part cut off (though I don’t have any clue on what the letter ‘U’ has to do with Pause, or Play for that matter).

These are the reigning theories. However, only the second theory (caesura symbol in music) seems to have a lot of takers. Number 3 and 4 are considered as plain rubbish. And theory numero uno has no existence outside of a little forum post (which was refuted right then and there).

So, what do you think is the answer? Where did the ‘Pause’ icon originate from?